In India, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor. According to the Indian Minor Act, a girl who was 18 years old and a boy who was 21 years old were lawfully married. where it was forbidden to marry a minor. Because there has been an increase in the number of child weddings in recent years, particularly in Indian states, The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 was enacted for the first time in our country to prevent child marriages.
The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929
- was enacted to prevent children from marrying.
- It deals with the issue of girls and boys marrying before they reach the legal marriage age.
- In the past, according to Indian culture, a girl who was younger than her minority age was married to an older man. To prevent such marriages, child marriage restrictions were enacted. Which imposed sanctions on the parents. However, child marriage was not completely abolished as a result of this act.
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act has been in effect since 2006.
- This act went into effect on March 1, 2005. This was established to safeguard victims of child marriages.
Child Marriage’s Legality
Child marriage is defined as a marriage in which either the girl or the boy is under the age of 21. The previous law, the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929, only included measures for preventing or prohibiting child marriages, not for regulating solemnization. The current law, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, has three goals: to prevent child weddings, to safeguard children participating in marriages, and to prosecute offenders. Child marriage is now a cognizable and non-bailable offence under this statute. The court can issue an injunction to prevent it from being solemnised, and if it is solemnised after the injunction, the marriage will be ruled null.
Child marriage’s ramifications
Child marriage is a dangerous practise that can have fatal repercussions. Domestic violence from older husbands is probably more common among child brides. Young brides are significantly more likely than non-married girls to be ignorant.
These young women are more prone to get HIV/AIDS and other STDs, as well as to have children before they are physically ready. Every year, over 70,000 young brides die as a result of problems after childbirth. Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely than women in their twenties to die after childbirth. Early pregnancy and marriage can also be harmful to a girl’s child. When a mother is below the age of 18, her kid has a 60 percent higher probability of dying in the first year of life than if she is beyond the age of 19.
India’s Current Situation
In respect of the rate of child marriage, India ranks fourth out of eight South Asian countries. In India, child marriage is presently prohibited. Marriage is legal when a female is 18 years old and a man is 21 years old. Despite this, India has the world’s greatest number of child brides. In India, about half of all females marry before they turn 18 years old.
In India, child marriage between boys is also common, but at far lower rates than in the past.
India is home to one out of every three child brides in the globe. 102 million of the country’s 223 million child brides were married before they turned 15.
In India, the prevalence of child marriage varies by state and union territory. In Bihar and West Bengal, more than 40% of young women marry before they turn 18 years old, while in Lakshadweep, less than 5% marry before they turn 18. In India, five states account for about half of all child brides: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh. With 36 million child brides, Uttar Pradesh is the state with the highest population.
The likelihood of a girl being married as a youngster is determined by her upbringing. Girls who live in rural regions or come from impoverished families are more at risk, and those with little or no schooling have a higher proportion of child brides.
When compared to women who marry later, child marriages have more children to care for at a young age and have larger families.
Between 2005 and 2013, India had the second highest rate of child weddings, with 43 percent of women aged 20-24 marrying for the first time before the age of 18.
To abolish child marriage by 2030, progress must be four times faster than in the previous ten years.
Decisions of the Courts
Lajja vs. state
The PCMA, according to the Delhi High Court, takes precedence over personal laws.
Independent Thought vs. Union of India
The Supreme Court of India ruled on the 11th of October 2017 that sexual intercourse or sexual actions between a man and his minor wife would constitute rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Court has interpreted Exception 2 to Section 375, which states that “sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape,” to mean that “sexual activity with a minor would constitute rape,” and that the exception will not apply in cases where the wife is under 15 years of age.
P. Venkataraman vs. State
The only consequence of child marriage is that those involved are subject to the penalties set forth in section 18 of the HMA, 1955, and a divorce judgement may be granted to the parties if they so desire.
Krishna Pillai v. T. A Rajendran
The court in Krishna Pillai v. T. A Rajendran was worried with Section 9 of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, which stated that no court shall take cognizance of any offence under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 after a year has passed from the date on which the alleged offence was committed. The three-judge bench held that the Magistrate was not competent to take consciousness when he did in light of the bar under Section 9 of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, because magisterial action in the case before it was beyond the period of one year from the date of commission of the offence.
The doubt of whether the applicable date for computing the period of limitation under Section 468 of the Cr.P.C. in respect of a criminal complaint is the deadline of filing a complaint or the schedule of institution of prosecutors, or whether the relevant date is the date on which a Magistrate takes cognizance, appeared to be in dispute.
Child marriage has a long history in both India and the United States, and it is being practised today. Both cultures struggle with poverty and place too much emphasis on women’s purity, while patriarchal ideas are well engrained in communities, which has allowed this harmful mistreatment of young girls to persist.
Because of poverty, young girls’ marriages are viewed as an economic shift rather than a violation of human rights. Marriage is frequently motivated by monetary desires, regardless of the child’s best interests.
Men believe they are superior to women because of patriarchal attitudes, which are quite widespread in India. As a result, women are frequently suppressed, and young girls’ desires and well-being are dismissed. Women and girls are frequently considered as things belonging to males, who should strive to please men at all costs, including early marriage and childbearing.
The consequences of child marriage can be felt all over the world, with negative consequences for children’s health and well-being and a reinforcement of violence’s acceptability.
As a result, child marriage might be seen as a kind of violence against women. Gender norms that denigrate women and drive the practise of child marriage can also increase the acceptability of child marriage.
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